Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Updated on May 12, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 487

A thirty-five-year-old scientist is a brilliant breaker of codes whose skills saved the world during a recent war. However, although his wife is extremely neat, the scientist is a slob who leaves his clothes lying about and accidentally starts fires in wastepaper baskets. She nags him constantly, but because he is a gentleman who will not argue with her, he leaves her, moving into a cottage in West Virginia with a Siamese cat.

Illustration of PDF document

Download The Language of Cats Study Guide

Subscribe Now

The beautiful blue-point Siamese hypnotizes its owner. Soon the scientist loses all interest in people, even in books, and the cat becomes the center of his life. Deciding to communicate with his companion, the scientist buys and steals a thousand cats, which he places in cages. He records their sounds and files them systematically until he masters their basic vocabulary.

After the scientist begins talking to his cat, the animal is eager to tutor him in the subtleties of the cat language. The Siamese eventually begins explaining the history of cats. Thousands of years earlier, he says, they had an advanced civilization that included space exploration and mental telepathy. When they realized their way of life had grown too complex, they decided to simplify it by creating a race of robots to take care of them. These robots evolved into humans. Now the scientist understands why cats seem so contemptuous of their owners.

The Siamese explains that cats, fearing an atomic war, have chosen the scientist to learn their language and transmit to the human leaders these rules: Do not kick cats; no atomic wars; no mousetraps; kill the dogs. If the rules are not obeyed, humans will be eliminated. To demonstrate their power, cats will release a gas in Washington, D.C., and Moscow that will drive everyone insane for twenty-four hours. The scientist opens his thousand cat cages.

Unable to decide to whom in Washington he should try to present the cats’ demands, the scientist wanders back to his former home. When his estranged wife begins shouting, he starts breaking up the furniture that she loves more than she has ever loved him. His violence cleanses them both, and they fall in love again and run off for a second honeymoon. When she suggests that he retrieve his cat, the scientist says the animal can take care of itself.

Hundreds of miles away in the mountains, they spend two months in solitude. Eventually, the scientist tells his wife about the cats and his decision that humanity is not worth saving. She thinks he is insane, especially after he claims to have encountered Santa Claus in the forest, but she loves him even more.

Finally returning to civilization, they discover that Washington and Moscow have not been attacked. The wife is surprised to learn that the cat, having starved to death, was the insane one, not her husband. All Siamese, it turns out, are crazy, making grandiose claims about the race of cats.

Unlock This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-hour free trial